Richard Jefferson a big piece of Nets finest NBA hours

Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

In true 21st century fashion, Richard Jefferson on Saturday announced his retirement from the NBA on social media. He will be remembered as a great Net.

Richard Jefferson made it official on Saturday, announcing via his new Instagram account that it was time for him to “move on from basketball.”

Jefferson played 17 NBA seasons and became a free agent on July 1 after spending last season with the Denver Nuggets.

He spent time with eight NBA teams in all, but almost half of his 1.181 regular-season games came at the beginning of his career, when Jefferson played his first seven seasons as part of the New Jersey Nets.

Jefferson became a key piece of the franchise’s longest sustained period of success since joining the NBA in 1976, as the Nets made the playoffs in each of his first six seasons and reached the NBA Finals in each of his first two years with the club.

It has been a turbulent past few weeks for Jefferson, whose father was killed in a drive-by shooting in California on Sept. 19.

Jefferson was one of those players who was vital to the success of their teams, even as he was never a star. Jefferson didn’t play in an All-Star Game, never made an All-NBA team, never was named All-Defensive and the only category in which he ever led the NBA was games played.

He was a glue guy, a high-level role player who twice averaged more than 20 points per game while with New Jersey and appears all over their franchise leaderboards.

  • 8,507 points (4th in franchise history)
  • 2,627 rebounds (10th in franchise history)
  • 1,486 assists (7th in franchise history)
  • 286 made 3s (9th in franchise history)
  • 489 games played (9th in franchise history)
  • 17,499 minutes played (4th in franchise history)
  • 2,349 free throws made/3,023 FTs attempted (both 2nd in franchise history)
  • averaged 35.8 minutes per game (9th in franchise history)

The Nets acquired the rights to Jefferson in what turned out to be one of Hall of Fame general manager Rod Thorn‘s most lopsided deals.

Thorn traded the rights to Eddie Griffin, the seventh overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, to the Houston Rockets for the rights to a trio of lower first-round picks: Jefferson (13th overall), Jason Collins (18th overall) and Brandon Armstrong (23rd overall).

Jefferson and Collins became starters for the Nets. Griffin played two years with the Rockets before taking a season off to check into a rehabilitation center for substance abuse.

He was killed in an automobile collision in August 2007, five months after being waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jefferson, meanwhile, claimed his only NBA honor in 2001-02, being named to the All-Rookie second team.

He remained with the Nets until June 2008, when he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

Jefferson played in 78 playoff games for New Jersey — tied with Jason Kidd for the most in the franchise’s NBA history. He and Kidd are the only Nets to score more than 1,000 points in postseason play.

He started 55 of those playoff appearances, averaging 15.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 34.3 minutes per game on .474/.308/.738 shooting.

In regular-season play with New Jersey, Jefferson put up 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35.8 minutes a night, while shooting .475/.338/.777.

He went on to play a season with the Bucks, parts of three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, parts of two years with the Golden State Warriors, single seasons with the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks and two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers before winding up in Denver last season.

Jefferson was able to grab that elusive ring in 2016 as a rotational reserve for the Cavaliers.

He has already been doing some media rounds and it is likely he will be going into television in some capacity. It will be a good fit — Jefferson is funny, knows the game and can pass that information along in entertaining ways.

When the Hall of Fame takes Jefferson into consideration five years from now, it’s not likely he will gather a lot of support — again, he was never a great player. He was just one of those very good players that teams need to be successful.

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Which was exactly what he was to the New Jersey Nets from 2001-08 — a period that for a team without an NBA title qualifies as its high-water mark.